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13 harrowing facts about Fred West

A photo of Fred West imposed over a larger black and white photo
Image Credit: World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo | Above: Photograph of Fred West. Photograph taken in 1994

He is one of the UK’s most infamous serial killers, one half of a couple who murdered several young women over 20 years. A truly monstrous killer, not even his own children were safe from him. But his crimes went beyond murder.

These are some of the most harrowing facts about Fred West.

1. His alleged abusive childhood

West grew up one of eight siblings and was reportedly close to his mother. He claimed in interviews that his upbringing was what led him to his murderous future. He alleged that his mother began abusing him at age twelve and that his father encouraged him to engage in acts of bestiality with sheep. However, his brother Doug disputed these claims, saying that West was a known liar and there wasn’t any abuse in their home growing up.

2. His crimes started young

However, one of Fred West’s sisters, Kitty, claimed that their father raped all of his daughters. Aged thirteen, she also told her mother that Fred had been regularly raping her. She became pregnant, although she didn’t carry the baby. West was arrested for the crime in 1961. Kitty died in 2006 and her husband blames the abuse for contributing to her death.

When he was arrested, West admitted to molesting girls from his early teens and asked officers, ‘Doesn’t everybody do it?’

3. He abused his first wife

Before West married Rosemary, there was his first wife: Catherine ‘Reno’ Costello. She left him in 1969, accusing him of being violent towards her and sexually abusing her. But in 1971, at just 27-years-old, she went missing. When West was arrested in the 1990s, he included Catherine’s name on a list of victims that he gave detectives. Her remains were later found. It’s thought she had been to see West to discuss the custody arrangements of their children when he killed her.

4. He murdered his children’s nanny

Anne McFall lived in a caravan with West and his children in the 1960s. She was only eighteen and pregnant with West’s child when he murdered her in 1967. Her remains were found in a field near West’s home in 1994, close to where Catherine’s body was also discovered.

5. He killed an infant

Before Anne’s murder, there was another victim: a three-year-old boy, Henry William Feeney. West ran him over while driving an ice cream truck. Although it was reported as an accident at the time, locals suspect it was deliberate.

6. He met Rose West when she was a child

Rosemary Letts was only fifteen when she met Fred West at a bus stop in 1969. He was 28. Although she was reportedly initially repulsed by the attentions of the older man, she was won over by him during the coming days. The couple had their first daughter together, Heather, in 1970 and married two years later. Rosemary also came from an abusive background and had been sexually assaulted by her father.

7. He abused his own children

Anne Marie West, who later testified during the Wests’ trial, was repeatedly raped and abused by her parents. She was bound, gagged and caught syphilis from her father as well as being impregnated by him.

All of the West’s children were viciously abused and were admitted to A&E 31 times over two decades, but the injuries were explained away.

8. He was a voyeur

During their marriage, West encouraged Rosemary to meet men and women for sex work, who were brought back to the family’s home. West watched them through specially designed peepholes.

9. He murdered his daughter

Heather Ann West, the daughter of Rose and Fred, was last seen in 1987 when she was sixteen. Her parents told people she had found a job in a holiday camp, then they later said she had run away to elope. Heather is thought to be their last victim and it was her disappearance that led police to investigate the couple.

Rose West also murdered another of Fred’s daughters, eight-year-old Charmaine, in 1971, when Fred was in prison for theft.

10. His home was a burial ground

Nicknamed the ‘House of Horrors’, West buried the remains of his victims in the family’s home at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, where they lived for 22 years. The couple dismembered their victims, before hiding them within the grounds of the house, buried in the garden, under the home and even in the walls.

11. He tortured and raped young women

The young women Rose and Fred West brought to their home were bound, gagged, tortured and raped in a ‘sex dungeon’. Bondage suits were later found at the house, as were holes in the ceiling beams, from which the girls were hung while they were abused. The youngest victim found at the house was Shirley Hubbard, who was only fifteen.

12. He escaped justice

West died by suicide in his cell before he could face trial for his crimes. He was 53 years old.

13. His children think he had more victims

Talking to Good Morning Britain, Mae West, one of the couple’s daughters, said she didn’t think her dad ever stopped murdering people, he just stopped using their home to bury the bodies.